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Review: Nehemah - Light of a Dead Star
Light of a Dead Star

Label: Oaken Shield Records
Year released: 2002
Duration: 54:08
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: November 27, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Light of a Dead Star

Rated 4.65/5 (93%) (20 Votes)

I've been letting this one sink in, to make sure it was the unqualified masterpiece it sounded like at first. I was surprised by Nehemah's latest album "Requiem Tenebrae" earlier this year, and I was very pleased to be able to get ahold of their first two albums, which are hard to find in this country. I was prepared for this, their debut from 2002, to be not as good as the awesome "Requiem", but I was just floored by the quality of this release, which has to be one of the very best Black Metal albums I have ever heard.

Take Darkthrone's "Under A Funeral Moon", twist in some of Mayhem's "Der Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" and just a twitch of Emperor's "In The Nightide Eclipse" and you'd be pretty damned close to this album's sound, but that would be doing this fine CD a disservice, as there is a lot more going on here than just a band being derivative of the greats of their genre. Yes, Nehemah are firmly in the vein of old-school Black Metal on this release, but they play with genuine conviction, and they inject their own sense of melody, atmosphere, and a true epic feel into their classic approach. This is Black Metal that is defined and informed by the old Norwegian tradition, but not limited by it, and Nehemah have taken the sound of the old masters and made something individual with it.

First, they got the guitar tone perfect – this is a raw, hateful snarl of a sound that is clear enough to hear every riff yet still sounds like a frozen buzzsaw. It cuts like a blade – sharp and deadly. The mix is raw, and definitely a BM sound, but all the instruments can be heard and the brutal nature of the recording sounds deliberate, not inept, as so often happens with this kind of music.

Second, these are just great songs. Yes, the first and last tracks are ambient bits with keys and the sound of roaring flames, but they are not too long, and the six songs you get are still over 50 minutes of music. The title track is a fast and furious bit of Mayhem homage, and yet with that Nehemah touch of melody and atmosphere that is really hard to describe. This band just never gets boring, and just when you think a song is played out they launch into a slower, doomy section or kick out a whole new cascade of riffs. "Nehemah In Vulva Infernum" is the best tune here, with a haunting and hypnotic main riff that will never come out of your head. But all these songs are memorable, powerful, and distinct, with no blurring together. Even the 11-minute "Misty Swamps" gets neither repetitive, nor dull.

So while this is a more conventional BM album than this year's "Requiem Tenebrae", not as melodic or moody, it is still a triumph of old-school Black metal rulage. Those who are bowing at the altars of the increasingly sad Mayhem, Darkthrone and Satyricon are missing out on one band who are carrying the torch of the classic Black Metal sound while managing not to simply rehash old ideas. Nehemah just flat-out rule, and anyone interested in the very best Black Metal has to offer should check them out right away. An underrated band and an overlooked classic.

Other related information on the site
Review: Requiem Tenebrae (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Shadows From The Past (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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